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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Alabama A&M’s Daniel Wims Paid Lobbyist $220,000 to Pal Around with MAGA Extremist Tommy Tuberville

Updated: Dec 10, 2023

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on October 11, 2023; Updated on December 10, 2023

An Editorial Opinion

Between November 2, 2021, and August 8, 2023, historically black Alabama A&M University paid Tripp Skipper’s lobbying firm, Skipper Group, $220,000 to pal around with MAGA extremist Tommy Tuberville and other MAGA politicians of his ilk. Tuberville, whose lips drip with racist comments about black Americans, is one of the most despised politicians in the United States.

Dr. Daniel K. Wims, who is Alabama A&M’s MAGA-wannabe president, doled this money out at the rate of $10,000 to $30,000 per month for the joy of hobnobbing with Alabama’s loudest circle of MAGA politicians on campus and elsewhere.

Tuberville is best known for his racist remarks in October 2022 about reparations for descendants of slavery ("they think the people who do crime are owed that") and his May 2023 open embrace of white nationalists in the armed forces (“I call them Americans”).

Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s brand of racism has caused his own brother, Charles Tuberville, to distance himself from the Senator.

Yet, Alabama A&M’s President Daniel K. Wims continues to pay Skipper Group big bucks to maintain his place within Tuberville’s MAGA political orbit.

IMAGE: Sen. Tuberville (left) looks across the table at President Wim in the Alabama A&M board meeting room during his February 2023 visit to the campus.

In addition to his proud displays of racism, Tuberville is ostracized in Washington because of his blockage on high level military promotions that require Senate confirmation. The leaders of both political parties in both Houses of Congress view Tuberville as a political buffoon. Tuberville is also universally regarded in Congress as ineffective and ignorant.

U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Alabama) is three times more effective than Tuberville in bringing direct federal dollars to Alabama. Alabama is set to have over $304 million in “congressional directed spending,” or earmarks in the U.S. Senate’s fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill. Of this amount $232, or 76%, was attributed to Sen. Britt. Only $72 million came from the efforts of Tuberville.

What Does Alabama A&M Get for the Money It Spends on Skipper Group?

Skipper Group, which is headquartered in Auburn, Alabama, bills itself as a “government relations, business development, and public affairs firm. Its website claims that Skipper Group is “forward thinking, well connected, and cross-trained in multi-practice areas.” The lobbying firm also offers “targeted media relations and opinion leader education.”

Dr. Wims has bought $220,000 worth of lobbying services, targeted media relations, and opinion leadership education from this two-man firm, which was founded in 2013 by Tripp Skipper. Skipper is a former Congressional aide who worked in Alabama for devoted MAGA Congressmembers Mike Rogers (R-Alabama), Robert Aderholt (R-Alabama), and former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). He only worked as a Congressional aide in Washington for 2 years (1998-2000).

Tripp Skipper was a member of Tuberville's transition committee in 2020 and remains a "close advisor" to the Senator.

Skipper Group lists 20 clients on its website, including the Tommy Tuberville Foundation and Take Back Our Republic, an all-white group of conservative GOP election law reform activists.

Noticeably absent from Skipper Group’s website is any reference to historically black Alabama A&M as a client, even though the university is larger in size and asset value than listed Skipper Group clients like the Alabama Business Council and Take Back Our Republic.

According to the firm's website, Skipper Group has only raised $6.2 million in contracts for its group of 20 listed clients since 2017.

While Alabama A&M announced an $8.1 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant on July 1, 2023, to upgrade the Bulldog Transit System, this money came from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which Tuberville vigorously opposed. Alabama A&M has won millions of dollars in other federal government grants this year through the hard work of dedicated university employees and without any help from Skipper Group.

Finally, Skipper Group also helped Alabama A&M get favorable news articles published in Yellowhammer News, which is considered the unofficial online news site for Alabama's MAGA Republicans. Yellowhammer simply repackages and republishes soft news stories and photos that appear on the university’s social media platforms.

Yellowhammer has not publish one article about the U.S. Departments of Education's September 18, 2023 letter to Gov. Kay Ivey that put the state on notice about its $527,280,064 debt to Alabama A&M based upon the state's chronic underfunding of the university over the past 30 years.

Dr. Wims Uses Black Consultants and Lobbyists for Window-Dressing Purposes

Although Skipper Group gets the big Alabama A&M lobbying bucks, Dr. Wims engages in just enough window-dressing to convince the university community that he is committed to black economic empowerment. Wims' so-called "commitment" is a mirage.

While Dr. Wims has paid Skipper Group $220,000 to lobby for the university, Washington-based Pine Street Strategies, has only been paid a measly $5,000 as a speaker's fee in a lecture series. This money was paid on January 12, 2023. Pine Street is managed by Donald Calloway, a former lobbyist and current management consultant who has far more presence, credibility, and respect in Washington, D.C. than Skipper Group.

Neither Donald Callaway, nor Pine Street Strategies, has ever lobbied for Alabama A&M. Today, Pine Street serves as a management consultant to institutions of higher education on a wide range of matters involving strategic growth initiatives.

Dr. Wims paid Dentons Global Advisors, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, $7,500 on August 29, 2023. This payment was made to reassure MAGA politicos in Washington that Wims is committed to the Republican Party and its agenda. Dentons assigned Ja’Ron Smith, a former deputy assistant to President Donald Trump and MAGA Republican, to serve as the firm's public face on the Alabama A&M’s account.

The Wims Effect

Dr. Wims is on a journey to change the socio-political culture of Alabama A&M. This is why Wims hugs and French-kisses MAGA Republicans when no one is looking. This is also why Dr. Wims tried to end the Magic City Classic, as we know it today.

Dr. Wims' posturing for Donald Trump's MAGA movement is a misguided move by an elitist HBCU president who does NOT respect his board of trustees or university community.

Dr. Wims has hijacked Alabama A&M and is taking the university on a journey to a place where no historically black university wants to go -- Misery Land. As a people and as a university, we have been to Misery Land before. It was an awful place and a horrible experience.

Not one of Wims' paid-for new MAGA friends is going to help Alabama A&M University collect one dime of the $527 million that the state of Alabama owes the university! They see more value in building new prisons in the state with the $527 million owed to Alabama A&M.

Finally, in a classic display of 1950s-era second-class citizenship, Tripp Skipper will not even publicly acknowledge on Skipper Group's website that Alabama A&M is his firm's client. Tripp Skipper is merely taking big money from a historically black institution that is in the midst of a self-induced identity crisis.


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